Wednesday, August 7, 2013

US Ends Import Ban on Most Goods from Myanmar

Today, the Obama Administration ended the Burma sanctions import ban on most goods from Myanmar.  This resulted from the expiration of the Burmese Freedom and Democracy Act's import ban provisions on July 28.  However, the import ban on jade and rubies resulting from the Tom Lantos Block Burmese JADE (Junta's Anti-Democratic Efforts) Act of 2008  was reinstated.  The ban on "dealing" with Specially Designated Nationals (SDNs) and their companies also remains in place.

This is a significant relaxation of the U.S. Burma sanctions, allowing Myanmar to export cash-generating goods such as seafood, textiles and wood products to America.  Hopefully this will encourage development of a broader Myanmar economy, which would help the reform process the country.

The major US Burma sanction remains the ban on SDNs, which continues to frustrate American businesses looking to invest in Myanmar.  For example, the head of Myanmar's major business federation is on the SDN list, yet he and others on the SDN list are the major movers and shakers in the Myanmar business world.  Continued pruning of the SDN list to limit it only to law enforcement issues (e.g., narcotics smuggling) will go a long way to eliminating a competitive disadvantage to American investors.